Reading fitness magazines and listening to fitness experts you’ve probably heard of carb cycling, a lot of people are doing it these days but it’s something that athletes have been doing for years. Like most nutrition theories, this one has been over complicated and twisted by the media when really it’s simple and can help you with your fitness goals, whether it’s fat loss or to improve performance.
Why do we need carbohydrates?
They’ve been given a hard time in the press, but carbohydrates are essential for our bodies as they are one of three macronutrients along with fat and protein. Carbs are our body’s main source of energy, so whether you’re running a marathon or just sat at home, your body will be burning carbs just in order to live. Carbohydrates are converted to glucose in the body and burned, however if we eat to many of them and do not burn them off, this is when it is converted to fat.
What is carb cycling?
Carb cycling is simple, eat carbs before and after you train. Our body need carbs the most when we are exercising, therefore eating carbs before training will fuel your body and give you the energy you need for a successful workout. Likewise, eating carbs after a workout will refuel your body and help it to recover quicker. On none training days your body has less of a need for the complex carbohydrates, therefore you can lower your intake and stick to fats, proteins, fruit and veg.
How does it benefit me?
If you want to get results then you need to be putting 100% into your training, therefore you need to be fuelled properly in order to put that effort in. If you’re looking to build muscle and improve performance then carb cycling may be for you. On the other hand, if you are looking to lose weight, then cutting back on carbs on none training days will help you to cut back excess calories that you don’t need and therefore be in a calorie deficit.
On training days, here are some examples of complex carbohydrates you can eat before and after training: